How to Fix Dairy Intolerance
“I’m lactose intolerant.”
This response has become more the norm than the exception when I ask a client about their milk consumption.
Me: “Do you want to try to fix the problem?”
Client: “I get a really bad stomach. Ahem…bad gas.”
Me: “Do you want to improve the situation?”
Client: “My naturopath took me off dairy and I don’t have the bloating anymore. My stomach feels much better.”
These are all genuine concerns and the avoidance of milk can indeed be a positive change for some if not life changing.
One doesn’t have to look far to find reasons to avoid “The Deadly Poison” as referenced by Robert Cohen. That book reads like a horror story. The book was on my reading list about 15 years ago and confirmed my bias at the time. I have to admit the elimination stopped my runny nose and gastrointestinal issues and I’ve seen dozens respond favorably in similar areas. It’s usually not a hard sell.
“It has puss!”
“It’s mucous producing!”
“The cow was given antibiotics and hormones!”
Sounds udderly disgusting….couldn’t resist.
The return to something responsible for much discomfort is understandably one of hesitation.
Milk allergies account for at least 2.5 – 5% of the allergies depending on your ethnicity. It would seem many people on the advice of their alternative doctor or through self-experimentation are abstaining from milk. Many do see improvements in mucous, bloating and gas but is the milk to blame or the internal environment of the recipient.
Lactase is at the root of the problem from the standpoint the enzyme is not produced to breakdown the lactose (milk sugar). Some point their fingers at gluten that destroy the micro villi in the intestine and this precedes the intolerance. Others vehemently look at the pasteurization of the milk being the source of the problem. They use the argument of breast milk being fine and the conversion to a highly heated undigestible product as the root of the problem.
Cows produce milk from the amino acids produced in their rumens by bacteria digesting the leaves that the cows have eaten.
The nutrients produced in the cow’s rumen are selectively absorbed into the cow’s bloodstream. The liver then filters out any toxins before the amino acids and other nutrients are absorbed by the udder to be synthesized into milk. If cows are fed extremely bad diets, for example with a very large amount of grain, the filtering process is less perfect, and some allergens can reach the milk, but since sick cows are less profitable than healthy cows, dairies usually try to keep their cows healthy.
Intolerance vs. Allergy
A milk allergy and lactose intolerance are distinctly separate. A lactose intolerance is the inability for your body to break down lactose (milk sugar) because of the missing lactase enzyme. Most people after some time realize dairy is causing their bloating, runny nose, and gas so they try to avoid the lactose. Some tests are also available such as the hydrogen breath test and a lactose tolerance test where a blood sample is required.
However, if you look at cultures outside the industrial community like the Masai and Samburu it appears milk drinking is not only popular but a huge staple. So is it only a western civilization issue? What would that suggest? Quality of milk? Quality of cows? What the cows eat? A lower level of health for those with a dairy intolerance? It would be an interesting study.
Especially if it’s just dairy causing the problem and not an underlying digestive issues such as celiac or I.B.S.
Having food restrictions is just that – restrictive. The benefit of milk from the makeup of protein, carbs and fat are just too good to ignore.
The calcium from milk is too important not to be included in a person’s diet.
Calcium is responsible for bone health, nerve and muscle function, helps control blood pressure by lowering parathyroid hormone, teeth and gum health, and help with blood clotting ability.
“But I supplement.”
Ahem…….Unfortunately calcium supplements have been linked to cardiovascular risk.
Also, the excipients (additives) in supplements can be problematic. Additives like silicon dioxide, titanium dioxide and silica have been questioned about their safety.
Be aware that the fat soluble vitamins of A,D,E,K are key to calcium absorption.
Cheese, eggs, liver, butter, and of course milk will help with obtaining these valuable and sometimes forgotten vitamins.
The battle against dairy is real.
If you truly want to beat your inability to handle dairy then this is what you do.
Start off SLOWLY…..I repeat…START. OFF. SLOWLY.
The first week is really an introduction of white milk alongside food. You want to start with 1-2 ounces only every day for the first week. If this dose becomes problematic then lower quantity back to an ounce or less.
Monitor if you have any side effects. If none of your regular side effects occur then increase it the second week by another couple ounces. Continue to slowly increase quantity for a few weeks and usually within a month your body is making the lactase enzyme and dairy is no longer your arch enemy. Awesome!
Some people have found switching brands of milk or even going with the ultra-pasteurized milk improves their ability to drink it. Some tout the opposite; with raw milk being the answer but it may be more the absence of synthetic vitamins giving a false positive. Also, I’m not talking about chocolate milk or other dairy products containing carageeanan (which can cause it’s own issues). That additive and other gums can be quite hard on the digestion.
Good luck and let me know how it goes.